31 Dec

Food For Sleep

Lissa Coffey

Lissa Coffey

Lissa Coffey

According to Ayurveda, India’s 5,000 year old Science of Life, there are three pillars of good health: Sleep, Food, and Relationships.  All of these things are intricately related.  The foods we eat have an effect on how well we sleep.


When we’re having a hard time getting to sleep, it may be that our bodies are not producing enough serotonin or melatonin.  By eating foods that stimulate the production of serotonin and melatonin, our mind and body can better relax to get the sleep that we need.   Here are some suggestions for foods you can eat to help you settle into slumber: 

-Dairy products contain tryptophan, an amino acid which helps the body produce both serotonin and melatonin.  About an hour before bedtime, that warm glass of milk that mom recommended might just do the trick!  Lowfat yogurt or a small scoop of cottage cheese are also good choices.

-Both tuna and turkey contain tryptophan and can be helpful for sleep.

-When tryptophan is paired with complex carbohydrates you can get even better results.  This is because the complex carbohydrates help the brain to release insulin, which clears the way for the tryptophan to be absorbed.  So maybe have a grilled cheese sandwich on multi-grain bread, or some turkey and crackers.  Pasta with tomato sauce and cheese is also good a couple of hours before bedtime.

-Cherries and mangoes contain melatonin, and now researchers are saying that some red grapes may contain melatonin, too.  Melatonin is an antioxidant that helps the body to regulate circadian rhythms and sleep.  This is especially good to know when we’re traveling and have to deal with jet lag.

-The University of Wisconsin recently did a study that found potassium might be one of the important elements responsible for sleep.  They studied fruit flies and fruit fly sleep to get this information.  So foods like bananas, which contain both tryptophan and potassium might be especially good for sleep.  Again, paired with a complex carbohydrate it may be even more effective.  Try some sliced bananas on whole wheat toast.

-A nice cup of chamomile tea will help you to relax and de-stress.  Chamomile is a flower, so it’s not really tea.  Real tea contains caffeine, so you want to avoid that.  Just a small amount of herbal tea will do the trick.  Don’t drink too much before bed, or you’ll be up during the night to go to the bathroom and that can interfere with your natural sleep cycle.

-Eat a light snack or very small meal about 1-4 hours before bedtime.   A meal with carbohydrates will help you to fall asleep more quickly, but can also cause weight gain if done on a regular basis.  You also don’t want to eat too close to bedtime because then your body will be busy digesting instead of settling itself into sleep.

-Avoid spicy and fatty foods before bedtime.  Spices are stimulating, and can keep you awake.  They may also cause heartburn and interfere with sleep.


May is Better Sleep Month!  Lots more sleep tips at http://www.bettersleep.org



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